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Top news stories of 2015

Here's the best of what hit the headlines in 2015

Harry Potter play to open at the Palace Theatre in 2016

It was the sort of news that makes the internet break. Details of the brand new Potter story, an eighth one, set when Ron, Harry and Hermione and all grown up were released in June. Expect a whole lot more news on this as we lead up to the show's opening 30 July 2016.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child artwork

Major fire breaks out at Battersea Arts Centre

The news that a fire had broken out in the London fringe theatre was devastating to theatregoers across the country. The fire blazed through the venue's grand hall on the 13 March and over 80 firefighters were brought in to tackle the flames. Luckily no one was harmed and the theatre has re-opened and is on its way to rebuilding what was destroyed.

Battersea Arts Centre ablaze
(© Richard Dufty via Twitter)

Loserville actor Lil' Chris dies aged 24

Chris Hardman, also known as Lil' Chris, died in March 2015. Having risen to fame in the Channel 4 series Rock School Hardman starred in the premiere of the musical Loserville. He released his debut album in 2006 and hosted his own talk show Everybody Loves Lil' Chris on Channel 4 in 2008.

Chris Hardman at the West End premiere of Loserville in 2012
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Full cast announced for Disney's Aladdin

The casting announcement for Disney's hit Broadway production of Aladdin was met with much excitement among WhatsOnStage readers. Dean John-Wilson will be riding that magic carpet with Jade Ewen and from the reaction around the news story, it's clear us Brits just cannot wait till it opens in June next year.

Jade Ewen (Jasmine) and Dean John-Wilson (Aladdin)
(© Helen Maybanks)

Richard O'Brien to star in West End Rocky Horror Show

Pretty much just a mention of The Rocky Horror Show sends people into meltdown. So it was insanely big news this year when Richard O'Brien - original Rocky performer and creator - announced in July that he would be stepping into the role of the Narrator for the first time in 20 years. And he did, in September at the Playhouse.

Richard O'Brien played The Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Winners of the 15th Annual WhatsOnStage Awards

Last year's awards - held in February - were a vintage year, with the likes of David Tennant, Billie Piper, Mark Gatiss and Jon Jon Briones taking home awards. Miss Saigon was the big winner of the night, taking home a whopping nine awards. We can't wait to see who will win next year.

Billy Elliot announces final West End performance

In December this year we were left with the news that the beloved Billy Elliot will run no longer in the West End. After running for eleven years and over 4,600 performances, the show will shut in April 2016. But never fear, a UK tour continues throughout 2016.

Billy Elliot
© Alastair Muir

Cumberbatch Hamlet makes headlines again over 'To be or not to be'

Was Benedict Cumberbatch and his Hamlet out of the news in 2015? Not much. But one of the main stories of his time in London performing as the great Dane was surrounding the 'To be or not to be' speech. In previews, the play garnered much attention for beginning with that speech - one of Shakespeare's most famous. But it was returned to its usual place in time for press night in August. We might never know whether or not it was cold feet following the reaction to it from the media.

Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet
© Johan Persson

Stephen Sondheim brands Lady Gaga at Oscars a 'travesty'

The legendary lyricist and musical man was left decidedly unimpressed in March after watching pop mistress Lady Gaga at the Oscars. She performed a medley from The Sound of Music to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 film. Sondheim called it 'ridiculous'. Ouch.

Stephen Sondheim in 2011
© Dan Wooller

Woman who was singing badly removed from The Bodyguard musical

We all love a good sing-song. But when the stars are supposed to be the ones doing the singing, it's a little impolite to join in. Which is exactly what one woman did at a performance of The Bodyguard starring Alexandra Burke. It was a story that prompted our series on theatre etiquette and got a lot of you talking.

Alexandra Burke as Rachel Marron
© Alessandro Pinna